Stuart: NSW not intimidated by Maroons
They’ve not won a State of Origin series since 2005 and only tasted success in a decider in Brisbane twice, but coach Ricky Stuart says NSW are no longer intimidated by Queensland.
The Blues head to Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday desperate to halt the juggernaut that is Mal Meninga’s mighty Maroons side and Stuart insists preparations have been perfect.
More than $3 million has been spent by the NSWRL since Stuart took over from Craig Bellamy after the 2010 series, with no stone left unturned in the quest for victory.
“It’s been very relaxed, very thorough but, most of all, very enjoyable. It’s been good,” Stuart said at the team’s Brisbane hotel on Tuesday.
“From a coach’s point of view, it’s been a perfect preparation.
“Everyone is healthy and happy and know what’s in front of them. That comes from a bit of experience from being involved in that situation last year.”
Stuart has played a part in both of NSW’s successes in Brisbane deciders – first as a player in 1994, then as a coach when the Blues won 32-10 at Suncorp Stadium seven years ago.
And although he is fully expecting a raucous reception from the locals on Wednesday, the former Kangaroos coach insists there’s no fear among his players.
“As a player, you need to enjoy Origin, enjoy the occasion and the hostility,” he said.
“The only way you can take the crowd out of it is by playing well.
“It will be an emotional evening when we get there tomorrow.
“But we’re not intimidated any more. That won’t be a problem for us. We won’t be intimidated by the crowd. We’ve timed this preparation to the minute. We’ll get there and be ready to play.”
The 45-year-old refused to be drawn on whether a win would be the crowning moment of his career, but said success would be a reward for a lot of people behind the scenes.
“I know what it would mean to everybody in the team and everybody in the state. It’s been a fantastic series. The game has never been healthier.
“But it’s not about me. I haven’t wanted to make it about me. It’s the players. I am very privileged to be in the position 24 hours before what is probably one of the biggest games in rugby league history.
“A win would top off a lot of hard work that has been put in and the demands that I have made have been met.
“It would be a dream that’s turned into a reality.”
Stuart also refused to bite when asked about accusations from Queensland that his side were a bunch of whingers, and also adopted a diplomatic approach when pressed on Tony Archer’s appointment as one of the two referees.
Archer has been at the centre of some controversial decisions against the Blues in the past, but Stuart said he has no problem with the officials.
“I just hope the game is won or lost by teams,” he said.
“I hope all the officials and all the players play well.”© AAP 2013
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